The First Sunday in Advent is that Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s day (November 30). But who was St. Andrew? Even though he was one of the twelve apostles, he doesn’t seem very well known to us.
Pr. David Petersen writes in his sermon for this day in God With Us: “He was a fisherman, which is why they like him in Malta, and the brother of St. Peter, which is why they like him in Scotland. He was also something of a missionary, bringing Peter to Christ and bringing the Greeks to Christ.” Regarding the disciples, Petersen continues:
“Hearing John, they followed Jesus. By grace, they stayed with the Lamb. They stayed even unto their own martyrdoms, even if Andrew never gets much honor of his own. But such is the way of the Advent disciples of John. Such is the way of the kingdom: its honor belongs to Christ, even as does its righteousness, but both—the kingdom of Christ and His righteousness—are declared to belong to the saints.
“What Andrew gets, you get as well.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, the coming one, who has come into the world.”
A blessed St. Andrew’s Day to you.
*God With Us is comprised of fifty-nine sermons, beginning with Thanksgiving and St. Andrew’s Day, then continuing on through Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany (including daily readings for all of Advent).
You’ve likely seen our own advertising for He Restores My Soul, but what are our readers saying? Here are some excerpts from the reviews coming in on Amazon and Goodreads. Visit these sites yourself for many more reviews.
“Essay after essay places us in the midst of lives interrupted by the cross or by mortal recognition. Each author has lived or is living something common to life but often airbrushed out of our glowing Facebook profiles. But what really makes these essays special is not just the emotional appeal, but the ends to which that emotion is directed and the character developed and revealed. They are witness stories not to magical relief from the thorns and crosses of life, but to how the Good Shepherd guides us through the valley.” -Mark P. Brown
“He Restores My Soul is not for everyone. It is only for those who, like the contributors to the book, have ever gone through or will experience any life difficulty in which hope, comfort, encouragement, and strength were needed…As other reviewers have indicated, this is not a sappy, feel-good look at the Christian life. The accounts are courageous, raw, and real and, because of that, the book will have a deep impact on the reader’s heart and mind.” -Kathie Winterstein
“Though I wasn’t able to personally relate to the unique struggles of each author, I found each chapter comforting for the struggles I face as each chapter was rich with the promises God offers to His people in Word and Sacrament. In addition to this, it also helped me to develop empathy for the suffering of others. It got me outside the echo chamber of my own mind and gave me a glimpse into the experiences of others.” -Hannah Fleming
God With Us by Pr. David H. Petersen contains fifty-nine sermons spanning Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, including daily sermons for all of Advent. Many customers tell us that they’ve given God With Us to family and friends since these brief sermons serve well for daily devotions.
Excerpts: “How might we keep the Law and love one another without fail, without holding back? Setting our will to do it or making promises and resolutions has never worked before, and it won’t work now. How might we keep the Law which we’ve never yet kept before? By putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is it. It is the only way. It is in being loved, being forgiven, being fed the Holy Supper that not only is sin forgiven but faith is also strengthened. In that—those things that God has given for His Church, for her faith and life—the Holy Spirit takes up residence and works do follow. The only way for sinners like us to keep the Law is to have the Law kept for us.”
“The boys [of Bethlehem] gave up their lives while the fullness of God hidden in Mary’s babe slipped off in the night. What kind of a God is this who lets the babies die? What kind of a reward is this for David’s city? Where is the peace pronounced by angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem’s fields? Where is God’s good will toward men? The answer is not very satisfying to our intellect: the ways of God are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. But it is satisfying to faith. And if you think that you have plumbed those depths, that you understand Him, that His ways and thoughts make sense, then you have committed idolatry. You are worshiping a figment of your imagination which you call God but who looks and thinks like you. Repent. He is not fully comprehensible and we cannot judge Him. We have no right to make demands or to insist on what seems just to us. We submit in faith and wait for His goodness to be revealed.”
“Therefore, take comfort: it is not all over for those who have fallen asleep in the Lord! They are merely sleeping. He who by His own death-sleep in the grave sanctified our graves as mere bedrooms stands even now at the deathbed, calling, ‘Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden!’ And when He lays them in the dust of death, He says, ‘I will give you rest!’ and ‘Here you will find rest.’ And if death is sleep, then each of the dead has the hope of resurrection.”
-an excerpt from The Word Remains: Selected Writings on the Church Year and the Christian Life by Wilhelm Löhe
“The book in many ways is both exhausting and liberating. It is exhausting, because of the vulnerability and courage shown by these women. They each have their own voice. They each have their own crosses to bear. Yet somehow, through it all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ shines through. They tell the story of the God who is ever present with His people, who walks with them through the valley of the shadow of death, and who never leaves their side, no matter what the trial. It doesn’t matter if they are talking about the burden of disease or death, single-hood or dementia, they share this language of faith in a way that I did not expect.
“But vulnerability is exhausting. It lets other people into your life. It gives them a place at your table, and you at theirs. It’s why true vulnerability is so rare. It is easy to have a strange kind of pride in suffering and sorrow. LOOK AT ME, we might be saying. But that’s not the voices of these authors. They see their own weaknesses and fears. They see how Satan has tried to sift through them. But more importantly, they see what it means to be one in the body of Christ, in communion with God and with each other. It is a rare treat. I feel like I’ve had a peek into an important family conversation, and I am all the more blessed for it.
“What I like the most about these essays is that they hit the challenges head on. They don’t sugar coat. They don’t turn the Gospel into the over sweet saccharine of the false hope of our age. Real sin demands a real savior, who really died, and really rose again from the dead….”
Read the entire review here. Find excerpts, author interviews, and purchase information for He Restores My Soul.
This year we are pleased to feature an acrylic painting by artist and graphic designer Meghan Schultz for our card entitled Virgin and Child. A deep blue border highlights the beautiful and serene colors in the original art, where Mary gazes at this precious son that God has given her. The words of Isaiah 9:6 on the cover and inside remind us that this newborn child in the manger is, in fact, our “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Visit our Christmas cards page to have a look at the inside.
Our second new card for 2018, King of Kings, features artwork from the Imperial Cathedral of Speyer, Germany. This Nazarene-style fresco was painted in the cathedral’s interior walls in the mid-1800s by Johann von Schraudolph at the behest of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The city of Speyer is significant in Reformation history; adherents of the Reformation were first called Protestants when they protested the Holy Roman Empire’s ban against Martin Luther and his teachings at an Imperial Diet in Speyer in 1529.
The inside greeting (see it here) is a stanza from the beloved hymn, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten“:
This is He whom seers of old time chanted of with one accord,
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the long-expected; let creation praise its Lord.
Evermore and evermore.
The Israelites could have reached the Promised Land in twelve days, had they been allowed to travel in a straight line. But God knew that would not be good for the Israelites, so He led them in a wide circle, for He saw their frailty. No kink or crook is found in a good and pleasant way around. Of course, God understands better than we how to lead, guide, and govern us. So let us humble ourselves under His mighty hand (1 Pet. 5:6), and not resist His will, but stop and go and follow and move how and where He wishes. All things must work together for our good (Rom. 8:28). He will make the temptation to have an end, that we may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13).
Oh, how our minds are pricked when we see the good life lying before us and cannot instantly get it! What pangs fill our hearts when we are made to suffer on strange, rough, winding ways. Yet he is a wise and blessed man who does not try to overrule the Lord God’s counsel.
The Israelites were to go forth into the Promised Land, but God went before them on the road through the wilderness to the Reed Sea.* Whoever is to make the journey into eternal life must first be led into the wilderness of this world’s misery. He who would inherit heaven with Christ must first suffer and die with Him [Rom. 8:17].
-an excerpt from The Great Works of God: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Exodus by Valerius Herberger, translated by Matthew Carver
*this spelling is explained in a later paragraph
I ordered 2 copies of He Restores My Soul, which arrived while I was away at a funeral. Last night, after returning home, I thought, “I’ll just read one story before bed.” I tend to be skeptical when it comes to reading religious books written for women by women. In fact, I usually avoid them and their “Christianity Light” emotive fluff.
I did not read one story. I read the entire book. I laughed, I cried, I sighed, I prayed…I was worn out by the time I reached the last page! So, yeah, it reached me emotionally, but it was not fluff.
Even though I have not had the same life experiences as all of these women, their honest and heart- wrenching essays elicited deep empathy within me. Why? Because their stories ARE my story. While the specifics of my life are different, we all ultimately have the same story: Jesus Christ, the Incarnate, Crucified, Resurrected, and Glorified Man-God is our Savior and it is He who unites us. Not the fact that we are women or that we have been hurt in this life, but that we are sinners and there is only one solution for this problem of sin, which is the root of all pain and suffering. Each of these women expressed this clearly and focused my eyes on Jesus.
Thank you so much for publishing this book. I will be ordering more!
–from Cheryl Ann, a new Emmanuel Press customer
If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve likely noticed a series of KFUO interviews with many of the authors from He Restores My Soul. There are currently eight 15-minute interviews posted, with two new interviews added each week through the end of October. Be sure to begin with the first in the series, where Katie Schuermann explains the purpose and structure of the book, specifically how each chapter ties into a verse from Psalm 23.
In this beautifully-written article in The Federalist, Cheryl Magness explains how He Restores My Soul refutes the common mantras of self-help and self-reliance, focusing instead on God’s promise that He will never leave nor forsake us. While society may tell us, “You’re strong! You can do this!” the Bible tells us the truth: “Christ is strong FOR you.”
Recently on Issues, Etc., Katie Schuermann spoke about post-abortion regret in a powerful interview. Her chapter entitled “I am Herod” in He Restores My Soul addresses post-abortion regret in the form of a narrative, based on conversations and interviews with Christian women who bear this cross. As Schuermann says in the interview, “For the woman who has aborted her child, the absence of her child in her life is with her every day…The Christian’s life is one of wrestling with that Old Adam who doesn’t want to trust in God’s promises, who wants to make us believe instead that we are unforgivable, but that’s not what God says in His Word. God says there is now no condemnation for us, that Jesus advocates on our behalf before the Father, that He has paid our debt.”
Finally, we are entering the season of book signings! Christina Roberts (left) recently spoke about hymnody to the Seminary Women’s Association of Concordia Theological Seminary, signing books over the lunch hour. And Katie Schuermann and her husband turned up at the annual Oktoberfest in Kewanee, Illinois, this week. Here they are pictured (right) with Rev. Michael Frese of Emmanuel Press.
October 25 in St. Louis, MO
November 1 in Sherman, IL
November 3 in Fort Wayne, IN
Details at katieschuermann.com/events/